Obituary: Benjamin Joseph Lehman
April 1, 1922 – April 18, 2013
Benjamin (“Ben”) Joseph Lehman, Rear Admiral U.S. Navy (Engineering) Retired, passed away in his Lake Tahoe home on April 18, shortly after his 91st birthday. Ben was born April 1, 1922, in New York City to Hermann and Ethel Lehman.
Ben’s life was one involving formal education, continual learning, and a search for answers to satisfy his endless curiosity. In addition to his very successful Navy career, years of very hard work for others in the private sector led to the satisfaction of forming his own business as a legal expert in safety matters for corporations and the U.S. Navy.
Ben’s education began in Brooklyn, where he attributed much of his later success to an accelerated experimental elementary school and Townsend Harris Preparatory High School. He joined the Navy in 1942 after graduating from the City College of New York in Mechanical Engineering. The Navy sent him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for four months of study in Naval Architecture. Special studies in electrical and mechanical engineering were furthered at the Naval Post Graduate School, 1944-45. After WWII he received a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Harvard University in 1949 and then went part time to Stanford University to study design philosophy and advanced stress analysis. Beginning in 1949, he became a registered professional engineer in several states even as he was very active as a Naval Reserve officer. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1977 and retired from the Reserves in 1982. He was an active member in a number of military and professional societies and organizations.
His most enjoyable professional years included work as Engineering Manager developing a new satellite for Lockheed Missiles & Space Co (1959-69), Director of Engineering for Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Co. (1969-72), Vice President Engineering for Litton Industries & Ingalls Shipbuilding (1972-75), and Independent Consultant (1975-2013). He was particularly pleased to have secured the success of the Aegis guided missile system for the Spruance class destroyers. The Aegis Combat System is currently in use off of Korea.
Ben leaves behind his wife of nearly twenty years, Ann Harmon; his sister and her husband, Janis and Charles Wellers; his son, Thomas Lehman, MD, and wife, Karen Teters; his grandchildren, Matthew and Nathan Lehman; his step-son and wife, Ben and Amy Harmon; and his step-daughter and husband, Laurel Harmon and Edwin Sanchez, and their children, Daniel, Matthew and Sadie. Ben was predeceased by his first wife of over forty-five years, Nell Zamkin Lehman, Thomas’ mother. He also leaves behind the Navy family that was so important throughout his life and the many close friends and colleagues from his long career of professional and personal service.
Ben had an incredible memory which resulted in wonderful stories and insights that he readily shared with family and friends. He applied his intellectual curiosity and desire to learn by remaining abreast of the latest advances in technology and science. The intelligence, integrity, determination and courage Ben displayed throughout his professional life shone through to the very end.
A celebration of his life is planned for later this summer. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Naval Historical Foundation, 1306 Dahlgren Ave SE, Washington DC 20077-5437.